So having just passed my driving test the Electricity Board thought it was a good idea to send me out in a small container truck that just scraped inside the 7-ton limit for being driven on a normal driving licence. We were delivering cookers, other appliances as well, but the reason I, a nearly qualified electrician, was there was to connect the cookers. I didn’t do it all the time I just filled in for holidays or if somebody didn’t turn up, it was the easy option, “move the apprentice, it won’t disrupt things too much.”
As jobs go, rocking up in the morning and being told “you’re on deliveries today” wasn’t too taxing. The biggest thing we had to worry about was whether there was a “range cooker” to deliver, it didn’t happen very often but when it did it would invariably be going to a cottage up a lane and have to be man handled for half a mile across difficult country before going up a dozen steps and around the tight corner. Each day of the week had an area attached to one or two of the Electricity shops, and after bolting the container to the back of the lorry off we would toddle with our clipboard and our map round the roundabouts and new estates of Milton Keynes and up and down the country lanes of North Buckinghamshire and South Northamptonshire. Being on deliveries was not without its perks, you were never too far from a cup of tea, either from the customers or in the shops. The regular delivery crew knew people who refurbished appliances, so some of the better trade-ins made their way to them for reusing rather than going on the scrapheap. There was also the odd tip, which contrary to logic came significantly more often from the council estates of the small towns than the leafy lanes of the suburbs or the countryside.
Genesis at Knebworth, featured amongst the gigs of 1978 and there were several others, but the cream of the crop was Santana, at what was then called, The Empire Pool Wembley. The Empire Pool was never my favourite venue, a barn of a place more setup for Cinderella On Ice and The Horse of The Year Show than rock concerts, the acoustics left a little, actually a lot, to be desired. Santana were brilliant, they filled the whole space with sound where bands I’d seen there previously had failed (some of them miserably so), there seemed to be about twelve people on stage with about nine of them hitting things. It was a real wow moment and at the time the best gig I’d ever seen – it stayed that way for years. Track of the year is Santana, Black Magic Woman
What else happened in 1978
There were three Popes in the year as Pope John Paul I dies after only 33 days in the office. The oil tanker Amoco Cadiz breaks up on the coast of Brittany during the storm and spews 1.6 million barrels of oil into the sea. The European Court of Human Rights finds the British government guilty of mistreating prisoners in Northern Ireland. Film director Roman Polanski skips bail and flees to France, after pleading guilty to charges of engaging in sex with a 13-year-old girl.
In the UK the Yorkshire Ripper is still at large. The otter becomes a protected species, and a cull of Grey seals in the Orkney and Western Islands reduced after a public outcry. There are still strikes aplenty and the Times closes due to one and there is panic buying of bread as bakers stop work. Inflation drops into single figures for the first time since 1973.
The first episode of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is heard on the radio, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Evita opens in London’s West End. Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights is #1 in the UK, and she becomes the first woman to have a self-penned number one single. The films Superman, Greece and Animal House are released, and the game Space Invaders starts going beep beep in our pubs and amusement arcades.
After failing to qualify for the World Cup, again, it was a big year for firsts in English football Nottingham Forest win the football league for the first time, and Brian Clough becomes the first manager “since the war” to win it with two different clubs (Herbert Chapman had done it with Huddersfield Town and Arsenal in the 20s and 30s). Ipswich win the FA Cup for the first time and Viv Anderson becomes England’s first black football International. In another first Ian Botham becomes the first man in the history of test cricket to score a century and take eight wickets in an innings.
And finally a bit of local Hastings news, the UK’s first official naturist beach opens at Fairlight Glenn.